I loved mathematics since I was a kid, I remember my classmates asking me — Would you become a mathematician when you grow up?
I loved mathematics because of how simple it was, and no matter what path you take, you end up at the same answer. I never questioned what was taught in school until a few years back. When I entered 11th grade I found math a little too abstract. I would sometimes pose questions to my teachers about why is math the way it is? I finally had begun questioning things, scrutinizing everything I learnt everyday. The problem did not lie in the subject, the problem lied in the way it was presented to me.
For me math was something that came to me naturally, if there was a test, I would always be on top. That changed when I began questioning things. Around 9th Grade I met a science teacher who truly sparked that thirst for knowledge inside my head, I began questioning stuff after I got acquainted with him. I remember he used to just mention a few advance terms regarding the topic being taught and used to say — Ghar jaake dhoonda. (which translates to — search for it when you reach home). I did, I searched almost everything he used to mention. Around that time I understood that knowledge can be acquired by ourselves as well, it isn’t just what is taught in class , we set imaginary boundaries in our minds often times and fail to seem them, sometimes taking a step results in a dive into something unimaginable and at times inconceivable. That happened to me. I learnt to “learn”. After that my competition was not the students, it was the teacher.
I used to accept formulas as just facts and never question them, after all of this I started looking for meaning in them, and trust me, it has been an unbelievable experience.
I became hostile towards mathematics because the way it was taught by teachers was, simply put- bullshit. There are a plethora of topics in mathematics which when you study do not give you are reason to study them. For example, I found matrices so useless when I first was introduced to them that I never even touched them while studying. I found them to be meaningless, I could not see why it was necessary to be learnt, what was its use. Integrating functions which who knows will I ever use in real life felt like a waste of time for my precious brain cells.
I remember literally crying when this relationship between me and mathematics hit Ctrl+Z. For me it was like part of my identity. Although a similar love affair started between me and physics and it’s still on, very on.
So I decided to change that. In life when you find something that you want to change, there is always a solution to it, there is always something that can be done and should be done. You must do whatever is in your hands, so on your deathbed you can at least look back and say — “I gave it my all”
I stopped studying from my teachers and started with the textbooks. I forgot everything about math that was taught to me and started from level zero. I learnt that the answers to my questions were right in front of me. The formulas I hated had proofs in the books which were never presented to me. When I see proofs in Math and Physics and when I have done them myself, only then do I use them or believe in them, because they were discovered by someone who was a human too.
What I saw was-
if there is any subject that you can learn which has zero lies- it is mathematics.
Mathematics is truth. The famous Pythagoras theorem was true no matter whether humans existed or not. Math is just a way or representing it. In math ,everything is discovered, not invented (it’s still up for debate ,believe me I’ve had plenty of discussion on this question). No matter the question, there is only the truth that is the answer. This gave me another level of appreciation for the subject. You may solve a question in math and not reach the right answer but you can go back and pin point where it went wrong, because you lied there (maybe by mistake). Whatever you did wrong was where you lied, it was untrue.
I love math also because of it’s application in physics. For example, it is one thing to say — An EMF is induced in a conducting coil when there is change in Magnetic Flux
and a completely different story when written in the mathematical form.
Using that understanding and putting it into the mathematical language gives us methods to “measure” things. For example, if a moving electron comes under the influence of a magnetic field perpendicular to it’s path, then it starts to perform circular motion. This is just something you know as a fact if you understand electrodynamics. Math allows you to know the exact radius of that path, those equations give you the power to know what will happen when certain conditions are known beforehand. Equations help you understand things with absolute certainty (leaving quantum mechanics aside for a minute). When you are given a practice problem in physics for example, you are supposed to look for mathematical truths in the given text and use it along with your current knowledge to reach an answer , once you identify that mathematical truth and can navigate through equations, you have the power of the gods.
Math is beautiful in many ways. Some are obvious and some are subtle.
If God has made the world a perfect mechanism, He has at least conceded so much to our imperfect intellect that in order to predict little parts of it, we need not solve innumerable differential equations, but can use dice with fair success.
It is indeed true. If you know enough physics you understand the importance of differential equations very very well. If not, then kindly read about atomic reactions as a function of time, they’ll give you a reason to believe me. If you still do not believe me then look up the Navier-Stokes partial differential equation which describes turbulent flow of fluids, you’d receive a million dollars if you can solve it (not kidding -https://theconversation.com/millennium-prize-the-navier-stokes-existence-and-uniqueness-problem-4244#:~:text=They're%20not%20easy%20%E2%80%93%20a,only%20problem%20that's%20been%20solved.)
If you are somebody who is well into physics I would like you to think about this one question- how did the great physicists devise the natural laws in their mathematical form? More importantly, why should you believe them?(it still bugs me at night)
My relationship with math is alive again and I am fluttering like a happy birb.
Lastly, the one thing that keeps me going with math is a statement that a very smart and intellectual friend of mine once said to me — the universe talks in the mathematical language.
So, if god does exist , I would like to talk to him one day, one day for sure.